Happy ‘unbirthday’: Why celebrating the ordinary makes kids happier

Posted in Wellbeing.

I listened to talk the other day by a motivational speaker who had a message so simple in its wisdom that it resonated with me for hours afterwards.

Happy unbirthday!

He asked: “Did the sun come up today? Then THAT is a good day? Why, because if the sun didn’t come up today then every living thing would die within 18 hours. So as long as we avoid that, everything else in life will be manageable, recoverable and a reason for celebration.”

Celebrating the ordinary (or the stuff that didn’t go wrong) is one of the best lessons we can teach our kids.  

At least according to cognitive psychologist and author, Mary Widdicks who says there are great benefits in teaching our kids how to celebrate the days that just work out okay – because it rewards the part of the brain that produces positive feelings. 

Read more about happiness:

She told The Washington Post:

“Maybe the Mad Hatter was onto something with his un-birthday idea. Every day is a cause for celebration, even small achievements are worth commemorating… Research has found that humans experience and recall negative emotions with a magnitude of about five times that of positive emotions. This means for every negative experience, we’d need five positive ones to balance out the feelings … Celebrating small accomplishments is one of the most effective ways to bolster positive feelings and increase overall happiness.”

Mary went on to say that parents have a responsibility to fine tune this part of their children’s brain by teaching them to focus on the parts of their day that, overall, went well.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to throw a party every night! Unless you want to.

That calls for a celebration

Celebrating can be as simple as mentioning the event or task around the dinner table, or a literal high five while you’re tucking them in for the night.

For example:

Did someone say thank you to the lady at the shops? Tell your kid how nice that was!

Did your little one eat all their vegetables for dinner? Give them a super big squeeze and mention how healthy that will make them.

Did your big one help your little one when he fell off the swing at the park? That right there is cause for celebration. Let them know how great that was to see. 

If you can get to five items every day, then you’ll be well on your way to increasing your little one’s happiness brain receptors – naturally. 

As Mary says:

“Pick your favourite celebratory word, pat yourself on the back, jump up and down, pump your fist in the air. Sing. Dance. Look like a fool and laugh at yourself. Do whatever it takes to remind your brain that sometimes life isn’t so bad.”

Life – what could be better than that?  


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